Redesigning Democracy Recap

Posted by Public Policy Lab

James Joseph, former ambassador to South Africa, gave a powerful talk at the Redesigning Democracy Summit.

Last month, the Institute for Emerging Issues in Raleigh, North Carolina, hosted a facilitated strategy session on the topic of “Redesigning Democracy.” Several dozen leaders from the political, non-profit, and academic sectors met for two days to discuss opportunities to increase civic engagement and substantive citizen participation in social and political issues.

Participants included Joan Blades, co-founder of; Grover Norquist, pundit and president of Americans for Tax Reform; Ric Grefé of AIGA, the professional association for design; Josh Lerner, director of the Participatory Budgeting Project; and the Public Policy Lab’s director, Chelsea Mauldin, among many others. Former ambassador to South Africa James Joseph provided thoughtful closing remarks on redesigning democracy to better serve citizens (video above and PDF here). Complete summit information, including the program, agenda, and video from the event is available here.

The proceedings are well worth a look for a sense of the wide range of organizations taking interesting approaches to civic participation. Honestly, it can be challenging just to keep up with the ongoing conversation around design-based social innovation — as followers of the Public Policy Lab’s intermittently attended Twitter feed can attest! But it’s mentally invigorating to occasionally dip into parallel areas of professional practice.

For a quick tour of some of the best civic-engagement resources, check out the National Coalition on Dialogue and Deliberation, the Deliberative Democracy Consortium, and Pepperdine University’s Davenport Institute for Public Engagement & Civic Leadership. See the participants’ list in the summit program [pdf] for further avenues of exploration.